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April 7, 2011
Oh No She Didn't: Overcoming Three Writer-Editor Disputes
 
Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”

As a writer, your relationships with editors probably fall into one of those two categories. When you and your editor are on the same page (pun intended), your gratitude toward your “second set of eyes” is infinite. When you disagree, it may feel like the world is conspiring against you.
 
In order to continue with your writing career, take a rational look at your writer-editor relationship.
 
Here are three common situations that you can easily overcome when you find yourself amidst “the worst of times.” 
 
Headlines
 A writer may disapprove of the headline that an editor chooses for his article (or an alteration to his original headline). It’s the writer’s job to create content. It’s the editor’s job to position the text for the publication’s audience.
 
An editor keeps the reader’s interest in mind. At this point in the editorial process, it’s not about the writer’s unfiltered words. It’s about getting people to read the article. Let go of minor editorial changes.  
 
Miscommunication
 It’s amazing how much miscommunication can take place among communications professionals. To make sure that you’re on the “winning” side of a dispute, keep records of all correspondence. The ability to follow instructions will keep you in the good graces of your editor.
 
However, with regard to revising your actual content, if incorrect edits alter the text in an inappropriate way, bring it to your editor’s attention. Clearly demonstrate how the changes made to your writing did not communicate your point.
 
Rejection
 It’s not enough to have thick skin. Writers have to be resilient. You’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position as you create a composition out of your thoughts and intentions—not everyone is going to like what you have to say, agree with it, or think that you have the right to say it. Rejection not only comes with the territory, it takes up the majority of the territory.
 
The quickest way to overcome rejection from an editor is to switch your mindset from one of failure to one of opportunity. Trust the editor’s judgment. Perhaps the publication was not the best outlet for your story. There are other places to express your ideas—don’t focus on one that was not interested.
 
Do your research on other appropriate publications. Twelve publishers rejected Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged before the thirteenth company agreed to print the text. Rejection is only the end if you make it the end. Persist.
 
Writer-editor interaction is no different than any other type of relationship. Sometimes you give, sometimes you take, but it’s about both parties. Each person contains a skill set that contributes to the relationship. You need to be open to what the other person has to offer to experience the benefits of the collaboration.

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Stefanie Flaxman corrects business, marketing, and educational documents in 24 hours. She’s a writing consultant and the founder of Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services. Check out her free report and subscribe to Small Business Writing Consultant Blog to get free business writing advice. Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter!

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